Right Now, I'm Believin' in Bush -- Not in Smokin' Guns

Still giddy from their victory over the demoralized (and unsupported) Soviet Army, the Harakat ul-Mujahedin needed a new hobby.  Osama bin Ladin's Front* would do nicely.  They did some bombings, held a press conference and announced their fatwa against the West.  They blew up embassies and ships.  They even tried to blow up New Years Day.  Let us hope that their second (unfortunately successful) attack on the World Trade Center will come to represent the height of their power on Earth.  And that can only happen if someone has the wherewithal to act now.

"...these creatures are a threat to civilization everywhere."
"We must protect ourselves - and we must root out the criminal element of al Qaida which seems dedicated to senseless violence for irrelevant reasons."
-- Rich Bowers

Bush isn't afraid of Saddam Hussein.  Bush fears the nexus of Saddam's resources and al-Qaeda's will.  As we all should.  al-Qaeda has the motive.  Saddam has the means.   When UNSCOM inspectors "left" Iraq 4 years ago, they were aware of, but had yet to account for 520 kg of anthrax-specific growth medium (enough to produce 26,000 liters of spores).  They also found traces of anthrax on seven warheads (each with a 400 mile range).  The Brits have photographic evidence of a long-standing Iraqi program to create and remotely pilot planes and helicopters specially outfitted with nozzles to disperse chemical and biological weapons over large populated areas.  And that's just the Anthrax program.

"Weapons of mass destruction" does not equal nukes -- we've seen how, in the wrong hands, a pair of box cutters can be turned into a weapon of mass destruction.  Saddam may want to add nukes to his sandbox, but we know that he is playing with chemicals and biologicals right now.

This is why Bush talked about "getting [Saddam] outta there" during the presidential debates.  And why his State of the Union Address (just a few months after the murder of over 3,000 innocents) placed Iraq squarely on the "Axis of Evil".  To be sure, the current situation is very dangerous, which is why we must deal with this threat while it's still pre-nuclear.  This conflict crosses administrations -- it is not "all the sudden" -- it's at least a decade in the making and as Dubya put it on 14-Sep-2001:
"War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. The conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing."

-- President Bush
   Washington, D.C. (The National Cathedral)
   September 14, 2001

I had actually considered writing a piece after 9/11 -- sending it in to the Wall Street Journal or something.  I was dismayed and wanted to get something off my chest.  After that day, my idle time was largely spent inventing horrors.  I'd realized that our free society empowers the individual -- and the individual, any individual, has the power to turn that engine of freedom against itself in an infinite variety of ways.  

Now that's individual empowerment -- That's a scary that will never go away!

But the months and events passed -- New Years, the Superbowl, Marti Gras, Olympics, 4th of July, 11-Sep-2002 -- and I was coming to a slightly different (though still frightening) conclusion.  From what I could tell of the news, Bad Americans were inflicting more damage on this country  in the wake of 9/11 than al-Qaeda ever could.

It seems to me the only real solution lies in the responsibility that we have to each other.  When evil stands tall, good must stand taller.  Personally, I think the Bushies secretly like the United Nations.  After all, the institution was practically dead when Bush 41 stepped in and "used" it to provide framework to the hugely successful international coalition to free Kuwait.  When it was obvious that Serbia was out of control, and Europe was powerless to police their own back yard, did the U.N. stop Milosevic?  No.  In fact, Clinton did an end-run around the U.S. Congress and the U.N. deploying NATO to the task.

Now the U.N. is in the crapper again -and- it's Bush 43 that's going to provide them with another chance.  In the end, it's America saying this stuff and doing the heavy lifting; because, no one else can -- no one else will.  America has been forced to retire its cold-war notion of deterrence; because, (almost by definition) you can not deter someone who is willing to be a martyr for their cause.  Our only course of action, it would seem, is to capture or kill as many of them as possible *before* they have a chance to take others with them -- that's BEFORE (a.k.a. pre-emption).  
We have to go on what we know right now.  We can not wait for "Smoking Gun" evidence.  For what if that turns out to be a smallpox outbreak in L.A.? -or- A cloud of anthrax over Jerusalem?

I say: Chill.  Take Bush literally.  I did not vote for the man, but I must admit I've come to believe there are no secret motives here.  He recognizes that he is the most powerful man on the planet and we are at a rare and perfect point in history.  Remember:  almost none of the original "Coalition Against Iraq" were onboard until America made the first move ("This will not stand").  Pre-emption is a doctrine against individuals -- against terror -- not nations.  States come into play only to the extent that they are either helping to capture -or- are harboring al-Qaeda cells discovered in their midst.

As we have already seen, once a cell has been exposed, the "host" country has the responsibility to take the first move and deal with it on their own terms.  Presumably, those who would aspire to imitate the Bush doctrine would have to impose the same restrictions (or it's not the same policy).  The strategy will work.  It is working.  The momentum is with us.  I suspect Saddam will be the only member of the "Axis of Evil" that ends-up testing our mettle.  The others (or their populations) will "see the light".  And one-by-one we will all diminish the numbers and potency of al-Qaeda.

The silver lining to this very dark cloud is that, regardless of recent international / diplomatic rhetoric, Atta and Co. have put just about everyone on the planet on the same page vis-a-vis Good and Evil.  Bin Laden's grand plan to ignite a holy war between east and west was a pipe dream shared by some thousands of warped men with delusions of grandeur.  They will be seen as a footnote that spilled-over from the end of the 20th century (not important figures of the 21st).

And six years from now...
(revised: graphics added 20-Jan-2009)

-- Will

*  It's so much easier to say "The Front" rather than "Al-Jabhah al-Islamiyyah al-`Alamiyyah li-Qital al-Yahud wal-Salibiyyin" (which is bin Laden's clique -- roughly translating to: "The Islamic World Front for the struggle against the Jews and the Crusaders")